Monster hurricane makes landfall in
Hurricane downgraded after making landfall Saturday with 145 mph winds
msnbc.com news services,
Early reports of damage were limited, but Cuban state media said the late-season storm toppled a major communications tower on the southern coast, interrupted electricity and phone service, and sent sea surges of up to 2,300 feet along the coast.
Paloma made landfall near Santa Cruz del Sur late Saturday as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, but soon weakened to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in
The storm was expected to continue to lose strength as it slowly moved across
In the central-eastern Cuban
In the city of
Perez was a toddler when she watched as her mother, older sister and about 40 other relatives were swept away in a storm surge during a 1932 hurricane that killed about 3,000 people.
"We're just waiting to see what happens to our home and our beach," she said.
'Really hard blow'
Fellow Santa Cruz del Sur resident Aida Perez, who is not related, watched the news with her daughters, ages 19 and 10.
"This is a really hard blow," the 44-year-old said. She was certain they would lose their home and everything in it. "What's important is that we are alive."
Outside on the nearly deserted, flooded streets, four men struggled in pouring rain to carry a refrigerator to a more secure building.
At 0900 GMT Sunday, Paloma was located about 30 miles east-southeast of
Hurricane force winds reached up to 30 miles from the storm's center, and up to 10 inches of rain was predicted in central and eastern
In an essay published in state media Saturday, former President Fidel Castro warned that Paloma could slow Cuba's recovery from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which hit in late August and September causing about $9.4 billion in damage and destroying nearly a third of the island's crops.
Elsewhere, Paloma knocked out power across much of
Donovan Ebanks, chairman of the Hazard Management Committee, said no injuries were reported.
"There has been minimal, if any, damage on
Paloma's fierce winds ripped the roofs off some buildings on Cayman Brac, to the east.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.